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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Wednesday November 7 2007 - (813)

Wednesday November 7 2007 edition
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High-Priced Oil Has Redrawn Economic, Political Map Of World
2007-11-07 02:44:18

As the price of oil surges toward a symbolic milestone of $100 a barrel - hitting $96.70 Tuesday - it is creating new winners and losers across the globe.

In southern China, high oil prices forced Wang Pui, a trucker, to wait in line 90 minutes the other day to fill up, just to be told he could pump only 25 gallons, as China faced spot shortages of gasoline and diesel fuel.

When Vladimir V. Putin was making Russia’s bid to be host of the 2014 Winter Olympics last July, he reached into the country’s deep pockets, bulging with oil profits, and pledged $12 billion to turn a Black Sea summer resort into a winter-sports paradise. Russia, which was nearly bankrupt a decade ago, won the Games.

The prospect of triple-digit oil prices has redrawn the economic and political map of the world, challenging some old notions of power. Oil-rich nations are enjoying historic gains and opportunities, while major importers - including China and India, home to a third of the world’s population - confront rising economic and social costs.

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House Republicans Join Vote To Override Bush's Veto Of Water Bill
2007-11-07 02:43:54
Congressional Democrats escalated a confrontation with President Bush over federal spending on Tuesday as the House overrode Bush’s veto of a popular water projects measure and approved a $215 billion bill to pay for health, education, labor and veterans programs despite a veto threat.

The vote on the water measure was 361 to 54, far more than needed to reject the veto. If the Senate follows suit, it will be the first time Mr. Bush has had a veto overturned.

After a long night of skirmishing on the House floor, 222 Democrats were joined by 47 Republicans in finally approving the $215 billion spending bill. Voting against the measure were 142 Republicans.

With an eye to the 2008 elections, Bush and Congressional Republicans are trying to re-establish the party’s faded reputation for fiscal responsibility, while Democrats are working to portray Republicans as being out of touch with the priorities of ordinary Americans.

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Nicaraguans Awarded $3.2 Million Over U.S. Pesticides
2007-11-07 02:43:09
Six farmworkers win $3.2 million in damages after being rendered strile by banned pesticide from U.S. company.

Six Nicaraguan farmworkers have won $3.2 million (£1.53 million) in damages after a Los Angeles, California, jury agreed that they had been rendered sterile by the use of a banned pesticide by the U.S. company Dole Food.

The judgment is the first in what could be a series of lawsuits against the company, and marks the first time that foreign farmworkers have successfully sued the U.S. food giant in a U.S. court. Four more cases are pending in Los Angeles, brought by thousands of workers from Central America.

The pesticide, DBCP, was sprayed on banana crops at night. Its makers, Dow Chemical Co, claimed that it eradicated pests that attack roots and boosted the weight of banana crops by 20%. But its use was suspended in the U.S. in 1977 after workers in California were found to have a low or zero sperm count. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that Dole continued to use the chemical even though it was aware of the potential health risks. The chemical, argued Duane Miller, lead counsel for the workers, robbed the workers of their "male sexual identity".
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Virginia Democrats Take Control Of State Senate
2007-11-07 02:42:29
Democrats wrest control of state senate from GOP, gaining four additional seats to secure a 21-19 majority; party also makes gains in the House.

Virginia Democrats wrested control of the state senate from Republicans Tuesday, gaining four additional seats to secure a 21-19 majority in the chamber for the first time in a decade. The party also made historic gains in the House of Delegates and won key local races.

In a speech to Democratic Party activists at a hotel in Tysons Corner, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) hailed the political changes that have swept through Virginia, beginning with the election of Gov. Mark R. Warner in 2001, his own election four years later and last year's victory by U.S. Sen. James Webb.

In an interview moments later, Kaine said Democrats picked up four seats in the Senate, with two races still outstanding. "It's an exciting time," Kaine said. "The state is really a competitive state." The gains mean there is a new Democratic partner for him in Richmond, he said. "It enables me to get even more done," said Kaine.

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Ousted Supreme Court Justice Chaudhry Urges Pakistanis To Protest
2007-11-06 15:15:06
Ousted Pakistani chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry urged the country's lawyers to continue protesting against the emergency rules imposed by President Pervez Musharraf over the weekend, saying the country's constitution had been "ripped to shreds" and they need to fight to restore it.

Under house arrest since his firing along with six other Supreme Court judges, Chaudhry reached a gathering of lawyers in the capital via cell phone and told them to "go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice," the Associated Press reported. "Don't be afraid. God will help us, and the day will come when you'll see the constitution supreme and no dictatorship for a long time."

Chaudhry is as an influential critic of Musharraf. He survived an earlier attempt by Musharraf to remove him from office, and under his leadership as chief justice, the court was reviewing a challenge to Musharraf's recent reelection as president.

His call for further protests comes amid continuing turbulence on the Pakistani streets, and reports that Islamic militants had overtaken the town of Matta in the northwest of the country. The area has been the scene of intense battles between militants and Pakistani troops. The wire service attributed the information to local police and a spokesman for a rebel cleric.

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Oil Prices Surge Above $97 A Barrel
2007-11-06 15:14:42
Oil futures jumped to a new record above $97 a barrel Tuesday after bombings in Afghanistan and an attack on a Yemeni oil pipeline compounded the supply concerns that have driven crude prices higher in recent weeks.

Those concerns were also fed by a government prediction on Tuesday that domestic oil inventories will fall further this year while consumption rises.

Oil was already up before news of the blasts in northern Afghanistan that killed 64 people and the attack in Yemen. Severe weather forecasts for the North Sea, expectations that domestic crude supplies fell last week and the weak dollar all contributed to the latest move upward.

While Afghanistan doesn't produce much oil, traders watch for the possibility that any escalation in the conflict there between U.S. armed forces and Islamic militants could spill over into other countries, disrupting oil supplies out of the Middle East.

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Pope Benedict Meets Saudi King Abdullah
2007-11-06 15:13:40
Pope Benedict XVI and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia clasped hands at the Vatican on Tuesday in the first meeting ever between a pope and the Saudi monarch, who is entrusted to protect Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammad and the center of the Islamic world.

The two met for half an hour, speaking through interpreters, in a conversation that a Vatican press release later said was cordial and covered themes from the “value of collaboration between Christians, Muslims and Jews for promoting peace” and “the necessity of finding a just solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Marco Politi, the Vatican correspondent for La Repubblica and a biographer of Pope John Paul II, said, “I think it is extraordinarily important that an official communique from the Vatican and an important Islamic state like Saudi Arabia mentions ‘cooperation’ between Christians Muslims and Jews - not dialogue but cooperation.”

The meeting, presaged by an upbeat front-page story in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper, was also a clear attempt by the Vatican to repair damage done by the pope’s earlier statement on Islam, which had been seen as insensitive, if not incendiary, in the Arab world.

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Afghan Bombing Kills Dozens
2007-11-06 15:12:12
Dozens of people died Tuesday when a powerful bomb ripped through a welcoming procession for Afghan lawmakers in a northern province that had previously been considered one of Afghanistan's safest, said Afghan and Western security officials.

At least five members of the Afghan parliament were killed, along with schoolchildren and local elders who had gathered to tour a sugar factory in Baghlan province, to the north of the capital, Kabul.

The blast, apparently caused by a suicide bomber, injured several dozen more people and likely ranks as one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted from power six years ago.

President Hamid Karzai issued a statement condemning the attack. "This heinous act of terrorism is against Islam and humanity and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms," he said. "It is the work of the enemies of peace and security in Afghanistan."

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U.S. Sen. Grassley Probing Televangelists' Finances
2007-11-07 02:44:05

Acting on tips about preachers who ride in Rolls Royces and have purportedly paid $30,000 for a conference table, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee said Tuesday he's investigating the finances of six well-known TV ministers.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, said those under scrutiny include faith healer Benny Hinn, Georgia megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar and one of the nation's best known female preachers, Joyce Meyer.

Grassley sent letters to the half-dozen Christian media ministries earlier this week requesting answers by Dec. 6 about their expenses, executive compensation and amenities, including use of fancy cars and private jets.

In a statement, Grassley said he was acting on complaints from the public and news coverage of the organizations.

''The allegations involve governing boards that aren't independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls Royces,'' said Grassley.

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E.U. Tells Airlines They Must Reveal Passenger Data
2007-11-07 02:43:36
Plan is among series of E.U. anti-terrorism measures; civil liberties groups says plan won't work.

The European Union unveiled a range of measures Tuesday to combat terrorism, draft laws which would criminalize use of the internet to incite or recruit for acts of terrorism and compel airlines to supply information, to be stored for 13 years, on all air passengers flying into or out of the E.U.

The proposals, likely to be in force across the E.U. within three years, could turn Europe into the most monitored space on the planet, according to civil rights campaigners.

Arguing that the internet was a "virtual training ground" for international terrorism, Franco Frattini, the European commissioner for justice and security, denied that internet service providers or electronic media would need to police their content.

"This is not feasible and could actually be Orwellian," he said, unveiling the package. "Those telling others how to commit acts of destruction - with a clear terrorist intention - should be put behind bars. Be it on the internet or print."
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Kentucky Governor Loses Bid For Second Term
2007-11-07 02:42:44

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a Republican whose lone term was dogged by a hiring scandal, lost badly Tuesday despite an election-eve effort to woo conservative voters by displaying the Ten Commandments in the state Capitol.

In Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour, practically the only politician to come out of Hurricane Katrina looking good, easily defeated a Democratic challenger Tuesday to win a second term.

In other races, Philadelphia elected Michael Nutter as the new mayor on his promises to reduce gun violence and clean up the city, Baltimore made Sheila Dixon its first black woman elected mayor, and Pittsburgh decided to keep the youngest big-city mayor in the nation, 27-year-old Luke Ravenstahl.

The Kentucky governor's race marked an unlikely political comeback for Democrat Steve Beshear, a former attorney general and lieutenant governor who hadn't held office in two decades and only ran for governor because he couldn't recruit another candidate.

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Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Mukasey Nomination To Floor For Vote
2007-11-06 15:15:20

The Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday narrowly voted to approve the nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general despite the opposition of most of the panel's Democrats over his refusal to say whether an aggressive interrogation tactic constitutes illegal torture.

The committee's 11-8 vote sends Mukasey nomination to the full Senate, which is expected to confirm him in a floor vote to be held by next week.

The committee's approval of Mukasey, a former federal judge, was secured when two Democrats, Dianne Feinstein (California and Charles E. Schumer (New York),parted ways with their colleagues by voting in favor of the nomination, along with the panel's nine Republicans.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), the committee's ranking member, said Mukasey went "as far as he could go" in his remarks on a simulated drowning technique called waterboarding that has been used in interrogations on rare occasions. Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont), who was among a group of eight Democrats to vote against Mukasey, said the nominee's refusal to call waterboarding illegal makes him unfit to run the Justice Department.

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Editorial: The Pakistan Mess
2007-11-06 15:14:52
Intellpuke: The following editorial appears in the New York Times edition for Tuesday, November 6, 2007.

By imposing martial law, Gen. Pervez Musharraf has pushed nuclear-armed Pakistan further along a perilous course and underscored the failure of President Bush’s policy toward a key ally in the war on terrorism. The events should not have come as a surprise to administration officials. This is what you get when policy is centered slavishly on a single, autocratic ruler rather than more broadly on his country.

The general, Pakistan’s president, justified his crackdown as a defense against Islamic militants, but his desperate and reprehensible actions - suspending the constitution, rounding up judges, beating and jailing lawyers and journalists - will embolden extremists. They will also fuel anger and mistrust among Pakistani moderates.

After winning a sham ballot last month, General Musharraf was awaiting a Supreme Court decision on whether his election, while still serving as army chief of staff, was legal. Jane Perlez and David Rohde reported in The Times that the dictator asserted military powers after getting word that the court would rule against him. A phone call at 2 a.m. Pakistan time from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dissuaded the general from taking similar action during last summer’s mass political protests, but this time nothing could induce him to back down.

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Mattel Recalls Fisher-Price Kitchen Toys Over Children's Safety
2007-11-06 15:14:29
Mattel Inc. on Tuesday recalled more than 172,000 Fisher-Price kitchen toys in the United States and Europe because several children choked and gagged on small, detachable parts.

The company has received 48 reports of small parts separating from these toys, which feature a sink, a refrigerator and a range. One child choked on a detached piece and needed the Heimlich maneuver performed to remove the part. One child started to choke and two children had pieces in their mouths and gagged.

"Small parts choking hazards with toys is one of the most serious dangers to children in the United States," said Scott Wolfson, Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman. "This should send a message to parents to take this toy away from the child immediately."

The recall involves 155,000 toys sold in the United States, according to the CPSC. It also includes 7,000 items distributed in Britain, 4,900 in Italy, 4,900 in Germany and 394 in Austria. The Mexican-made toys were sold between May and October.

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2007 Deadliest Year For U.S. Troops In Iraq
2007-11-06 15:12:24
Six American soldiers were killed in three separate attacks Monday, the military said Tuesday, taking the number of deaths this year to 852 and making 2007 the deadliest year of the war for American troops.

Military officials announced the discovery of a mass grave holding 22 bodies in a rural area north of Falluja. It also said that nine Iranians being held in Iraq would soon be released, including two detained during a January raid of a consulate office in Erbil.

Five of the American soldiers died in two roadside bomb attacks on Monday near Kirkuk, said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, director of the communications division of the Multinational Force-Iraq, the formal name for the United States-led forces.

A sixth soldier died Monday during combat operations in Anbar Province, according to a military statement.

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